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Court date set for Dotson to face firearm charge

Bucs defensive end Santana Dotson is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Hillsborough County Circuit Court on a charge of carrying a concealed firearm.

Dotson, 23, was arrested May

4 by an off-duty Tampa policeman at the Yucatan Liquor Stand. He was carrying a loaded .380 Beretta semi-automatic handgun in the pocket of his shorts, without a concealed weapon permit.

Dotson's attorney, Frank Winkles, has entered a written plea of innocent, and said Wednesday that he expects his client to be admitted to the court's pretrial intervention program. Under pretrial intervention, the accused has the charges put aside and eventually dropped if he completes the program without violating any other laws. Community service is often included as a condition of the agreement.

"My understanding is, unless I'm in error, that he will be accepted in the pretrial intervention," Winkles said. "I haven't seen the pretrial agreement, but all indications are that he will be admitted."

Dotson's record of arrest would remain, but there would be no admission of guilt. Carrying a concealed firearm is a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine not exceeding $5,000.

Hillsborough County assistant state attorney Ray Lopez said a decision on whether to prosecute the case has not been made, but that pretrial intervention is a possibility given Dotson's record of no previous arrests.

"It's an opportunity we give first-time offenders, but it's all decided on a case-by-case basis," Lopez said. "We're still in the process of looking at his background. We may decide to prosecute, in which case we'd probably set a case for trial."

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